Review Summary: A post-rock band that possesses the ability to range from a quiet, sparse sound to a dense wall of sound that rivals some of the best metal bands in the world. Although with only three members, the possibilities are endless.
I know what everyone thinks when they hear about a marching band. They think the marching band is just the support for the football team and at halftime; they go out and ruin old pop songs. In my school district, this could not be further from the truth. While our football team finished near the bottom of their division with a record of 3-8, shut out two times, our marching band came in 5th place at the Tournament of Bands Atlantic Coast Championships, which includes over 400 bands from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware, New York, and Ohio. The band is easily the most successful program in the school. What does this have to do with Russian Circles" Well, the use of contrast allows the band to achieve extremely high music scores. A large range of dynamics keeps the music energetic and interesting. Russian Circles manages to use a huge amount of contrast with only three members, and it makes for some of the most interesting post-rock music that, without the contrast, would be just an average post rock record.
Enter is the first full length album from Russian Circles, a band formed out of Chicago and looks to fellow Chicagoans Pelican for inspiration and direction. Although the two bands possess obvious similarities, Russian Circles focuses much more on their quiet passages and uses the metal-esque sections simply as climaxes. The band never plays around with time signatures or rhythm, their riffs are for the most part simple enough, and the chordal structure is interesting but nothing groundbreaking. The drummer, Dave Turncrantz, serves as the propelling force behind the band, laying down just the right groove at the right time. He adds a tint of rhythmic complexity with his fills, but never enough to detract from the overall sound. Guitarist Mike Sullivan is certainly not the most talented guitarist in the world. He plays his faster riffs rather sloppily at times and his tone squeaks here and there. His chord strumming sounds inconsistent, but his melodic ideas prove greater than his faults. Colin DeKuiper, bassist, creates the most contrast in the band, nearly disappearing in the quiet sections and becoming a relentless wall of sound in the heavier sections.
Although only six tracks, Enter spans nearly 50 minutes of music, making a typical length for a full length album. Even with three members, they manage to create enough variety to make the album a great listen. Carpe
, although the longest track on the album, simply serves as the opening track to the album. It builds intensity and shows a quick representation of all the band’s sounds. It masterfully builds and falls multiple times, all while revolving around one simple melodic idea. The drums switch grooves throughout, either laying back or propelling forward. The heavier moments of the track appear to be all the band can muster, but later on the album; they take their metal sound to a whole new level. Death Rides a Horse
opens viciously, almost sounding like a full band statement of Cliff Burton’s Anesthesia
. However, that quickly changes, only serving as an intro. Death Rides a Horse
is easily the overall heaviest and quickest song on Enter. Even this song possesses its contrast, though. After its heavy intro, it comes down a slight bit, showing off Sullivan’s best guitar work. It all builds to a surprisingly catchy riff that fits on just about any metal band’s album. It doesn’t stop there, though. After a drum feature, a dissonant hammering of guitar and bass like a death bell chimes in time after time. Death Rides a Horse
may be the catchiest post-rock song ever created. The catchy riffs, the builds, and the great guitar work from Sullivan all make it an easy standout on the album.
Russian Circles knows how to make a build span an entire song as well. Enter
, the title track, proves their point in a nearly eight minute epic. It features some of the most chaotic sections on the album, creating a remarkable wall of sound for only three members. Every song on the album is a true rollercoaster ride. They grow from the quietest clean guitar strums to huge, dissonant strokes of sound. However, the constant switch from one sound to the other becomes a bit tiring. The album needs a full song of their quieter sound to break up all the constant builds and falls. Despite the tiring switches, every song on the album is fantastic and this album is sure to stand as one of the finest of year, possibly the best post-rock album of the year.
Death Rides a Horse